The road winds left then right as it cuts in through the Kent countryside. Fields and iron fencing line the final route into the nuclear fight reactor that is Bunker 23.
The first thing that strikes you as you leave the calm country exterior behind and step through the steel door into the facility is that it’s a real fighters gym. The look and feel is all about combat, and those who arrive here come to truly train. It’s split level, with an open plan downstairs training area, and full size ring and corporate training room, or bunker command, upstairs. On the ground level camouflage army netting is festooned across the ceiling and gives it a special forces feel. If the SAS produced warriors for the octagon and ring, this is where they would train. The graffiti style logo on the main wall riffs off of the Bunker 23 branded vinyl covers that wrap around buttresses and beams. The thick, fully padded floor is littered round the edge with piles of pads and gloves, the walls are loaded with speed balls, bags and punch pads.
If downstairs is the boot camp, then upstairs is where strategy and technique are refined. The ring offers the opportunity to spar and fine tune ring craft as well as an area to chill and deb-brief. In the conference room there is a state of the art video set up. An 8x8ft screen allows fights to be played back, as well as the frame by frame dissection of technique and the use of state of the art coaching applications and software. It’s also in here that corporate training events like the urban safety day are run. In the bunker itself offers regular structured intermediate and advanced level sessions that are run by Warchief on Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday, and Chass coaches Kickboxing on Monday, Thursday and Fridays. Outside of that one-to-one classes and various England squad sessions as well as guest seminars are held. It is a bona fide fight factory, that is designed and built to produce winners and champions.
Back down stairs the hiss of effort and the vinyl crack of pads still continues. No retreat, no surrender as a catalogue of combat training tracks provide the rocket fuel beat to the brutal battering and drilling that is playing out; Town called malice, Going underground and Swords of a thousand men. The aching and pumped muscles are now fully suffused with blood and glow red under the yellow neon lights that gleam and bounce of the wet bodies and sculpted physiques. Bunker 23, this is where fighters are made.